How To Develop a Health Promoting Project in the Arctic – Planning

In this follow-up post, Susanne Stilling will explain the key points of planning a health promoting project in the Arctic. If you missed the previous post from Susanne, you can read it here.

Health promotion is a fairly new area in Greenland. Previously the focus has mostly been on prevention of illness. However during the last couple of years the politicians have realized how important it is to do health promotion; especially to avoid further increase in the spending on health care management due to the demographic changes.

As described in the previous post we have many different challenges in Greenland; hence, prioritizing the different health promoting activities is very important and here I will try to describe how we prioritize in the Department of Health and Infrastructure.

Members of the previous parliament dressed in traditional clothing for the first day of the political gathering. "Inatsisartut" is the Greenlandic word for parliament.
Members of the previous parliament dressed in traditional clothing for the first day of the political gathering. “Inatsisartut” is the Greenlandic word for parliament.

I have many different considerations, when I am planning to do a health promotion project. First I have to be sure that the aim of the project is aligned to the current political vision and the Minister of Health agrees. Second I have to make sure that it is connected to the national strategy of public health named “Inunneritta II” (which is Greenlandic for “a good life”). And finally I have to consider the finances – how many resources are allocated to this particular project (most often not as much as I need :) ). All these initial considerations are the foundation of every health promoting project I do; after these I can finally get to all the fun stuff :)

Writing a project plan
The project plan is an overall view of the different steps in the project, which is used to guide the whole process and make sure that I end up with a product that is aligned to the initial idea. The project plan consists of the following elements:

•    Introduction to the project
•    Background for doing the project
•    Aim and objectives of the project
•    Intended target group(s)
•    Main message(s)
•    Stakeholder mapping to identify gatekeepers
•    Time schedule
•    Members of the Steering committee
•    Number and members of working groups

At this stage, stakeholder mapping is particular important, as early involvement of stakeholders and gatekeepers are essential for a successful project. I use specific criteria for mapping and grouping the stakeholders:

•    Job function – certain professional groups are important as gatekeepers to certain institutions and/or organizations (e.g. private companies, restaurants, law enforcement, municipality, health care system, NGOs etc.)

•    Geographical place – due to the spread of the population in a vast geographical area, it is important to create local ownership and empowerment by having a local gatekeeper involved in the project.

•    Local authorities – especially the non-official authorities. In some of the small settlements there are a number of people with no official authority, but they are highly respected in the local community. Those resources are very important to engage with to ensure implementation of the project in those secluded areas of the country.

When I have identified the essential stakeholders they are invited to participate in the different working groups, so I am sure that they will have a say in the project and thereby ensure that the final project is based on inputs from different local resources.

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